Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Girls Survive Mysterious Slaughter of Family ; One Is Found amid Bodies Hours after Attack That Killed 4 in France

Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Girls Survive Mysterious Slaughter of Family ; One Is Found amid Bodies Hours after Attack That Killed 4 in France

Article excerpt

Apparently frozen in terror, a 4-year-old girl crouched silently for eight hours in the back of a corpse-filled BMW in the French Alps as investigators nearby hunted for clues.

Apparently frozen in terror, a 4-year-old girl crouched silently for eight hours beneath her dead mother and grandmother in the back of a corpse-filled BMW in the French Alps as, just steps away, investigators hunted for clues.

The discovery of the girl, alive and unharmed, around midnight Wednesday provided a glimmer of relief following a grisly and murky attack on a forest road near the village of Chevaline that left four people dead and a 7-year-old girl -- thought to be the sister of the 4-year-old -- hospitalized with a fractured skull. Three of the victims were shot in the head, officials said Thursday.

Law enforcement officials said the BMW appeared to belong to a British family vacationing at a campground near Lake Annecy, a picturesque Alpine area near the Swiss and Italian borders. Officials did not release the identities of the victims, but they said the car was registered to a man who was born in Baghdad in 1962 and had a British passport. Reuters reported that the man was Saad al-Hilli from Surrey in southern England. Investigators said they had uncovered no motive for the killings.

The bodies of the four victims were discovered Wednesday by a British tourist, a former air force officer who was cycling by and told the police that he saw a seriously injured girl lying in front of a BMW.

Investigators said the victims appeared to include two parents and a grandmother. The older woman, whom French press reports said was a Swedish citizen, was found in the back of the car. The man thought to be the father and owner of the car was slumped over the steering wheel. About 15 bullet cartridges from an automatic weapon were strewn on the ground outside. Officials said it appeared the dead in the car had been targeted rather than being the victims of indiscriminate firing into the car. …

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